KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs general manager John Dorsey held a Tuesday conference call with Chiefs media members, marking the first time he’s publicly spoken since the start of the free agency period.
Here are the highlights from that call.
Moving past Sanders
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders’ agent, Steve Weinberg, issued a statement Tuesday morning to deny a report that an agreement in principle with the Chiefs existed before his client signed with the Broncos.
Rather than engage in a he-said, they-said match surrounding the controversy, Dorsey took the high road.
“During the free-agency stuff, anything can happen,” Dorsey said. “You know what, I was interested in the player and at the end of the day, the player and the agent decided to go to Denver.
“I’m one of those guys, it’s kind of like the Vance Walker deal, that deal was put to bed and you don’t look in the rearview mirror. We have to move forward and build this organization. That’s kind of where we are with this, and I’m moving forward to the next project.”
When asked if he’s ever had something like that happen in the past, Dorsey emphasized the team is putting the Sanders situation behind them and focusing on other matters.
“I really don’t talk about the negotiations outside of the building, and really that’s it,” he said. “We move on, and that’s kind of what I’ve done. I’ve put it in the rearview mirror and I’ve moved forward.”
Status quo on Smith, Houston extension talks
Dorsey told a small group of Chiefs media at the NFL Scouting Combine that contract extension talks were ongoing with quarterback Alex Smith’s representatives.
NFL insider Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports later reported the Chiefs were also in negotiations with outside linebacker Justin Houston’s representatives.
Smith and Houston are in the final years of their respective contracts.
As for an update on those discussions, Dorsey maintained the status quo.
“That’s an ongoing process as we speak,” Dorsey said. “We’ve had communication with his representatives and that’s kind of where we are.”
Despite no news surrounding an extension, it’s always a good sign the talks continue.
What’s next at wide receiver?
After missing out on Sanders – and arguably wide receivers Julian Edelman and Branden LaFell on Saturday due to attention on Sanders – the Chiefs still have a need at the position.
A player they recently had in for a visit, Joe Morgan re-signed with the New Orleans Saints Tuesday evening.
But despite the setbacks, Dorsey appeared confident options remained on the market.
“This is just really the mid-part of the second week of free agency,” he said. “There’s a lot, there’s still players out there.”
But if the Chiefs can’t find a viable option through free agency, Dorsey appeared confident a player could be found in May.
“In this draft, I think this draft is very deep in terms of wide receivers with skills,” Dorsey said.
Indeed, this year’s NFL Draft has been called one of the deepest in the past decade at virtually every position.
And the Chiefs, who currently have the 23rd pick overall, will have options if any of the wide receivers they covet falls in their lap.
“We’re going to turn over every rock possible as we move forward here,” Dorsey said. “That’s part of the process right not as this plan moves forth. We’ll continue to add to the competitive depth to our roster, and that’s what we do every day. We come in here and try to find the best possible players we can.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs currently lack a second-round pick due to last year’s trade for quarterback Alex Smith.
But entering May with one less selection won’t deter Dorsey from exploring the acquisition of additional draft picks through trades with other teams if necessary.
“My phone is always open if you want to tell those guys if they want to trade up or down, just give me a call,” Dorsey said. “You know what; you have to do everything within your power to see if you can do things.
“Rest assured that I will try to do everything I can to move up, move down if I feel like it’s time to pull the trigger and go up and get a player, or pull the trigger to move down to get a player, I will use every resource available to me.”
Continued praise of Commings
It’s no secret Dorsey is high on defensive back Sanders Commings, whose rookie season was wrecked by a shoulder injury.
When healthy, Commings has the size at 6-0, 223 pounds to make an impact in the secondary. And Commings, who ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the 2013 Combine, offers the speed the Chiefs lacked last season.
Of course, there’s the durability concern hanging over Commings’ head. But it appears he’s headed for a battle against Husain Abdullah, who re-signed a two-year deal to stay in Kansas City, or any added player for the starting free safety position.
“One of the reasons we drafted Sanders Commings is we thought he fit that positional skill,” Dorsey said. “I could see Husain and those guys competing and there’s some players within this draft that could help come in and contribute as well.”
May the best man win
With left tackle Branden Albert along with guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah gone, the Chiefs offensive line will have a different look in 2014.
But it remains to be seen who starts at either tackle position between Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson.
“I think both of those two guys are good football players,” Dorsey said. “And whatever they can do to help contribute to this team, their role is to do that.”
The same is true at the right guard position vacated by Schwartz, who closed out the season as the starter, and Asamoah, who began the season as the starter.
The Chiefs signed Jeff Linkenbach, who can play guard or tackle, and return Rishaw Johnson and Rokevious Watkins, meaning competition should be alive and well.
“I think at the end of the day the coaching staff will put the best five offensive linemen out there for what’s good for the Kansas City Chiefs,” Dorsey said.
Saying farewell, saying hello
Former Chiefs defensive lineman Jerrell Powe’s signing with the Houston Texans brings the total number of players lost since the start of free agency to seven.
Joining Powe as signing elsewhere Albert, Schwartz, Asamoah, wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, safety/returner Quintin Demps and defensive end Tyson Jackson.
Currently on the market from the 2013 team are inside linebacker Akeem Jordan, wide receiver Kyle Williams and free safety Kendrick Lewis.
While it’s not often easy to let a player go, it’s a part of the business side of the NFL.
“Nobody ever wants to lose good football players, and I wish all of those guys the best because not only did they help the Chiefs (by) contributing in 2013, but they’re good guys too,” Dorsey said. “That’s free agency.
“I think every team loses players as we go in the free agency period, and good teams, respectably, lose players. Maybe it’s a sign of what we’re building here. As we move forward here, we’ll begin to finish those components and go to the next stage.”
The flip side of free agency is welcoming Linkenbach, outside linebacker Joe Mays and defensive lineman Vance Walker.
Dorsey said their specific roles will be determined during organized team activities (OTAs), minicamps and training camp. But for now, he’s happy to have them
“I think they’re very fine football players,” Dorsey said. “And I’m excited to see them as a Kansas City Chief.”
The Chiefs entered the start of the league’s calendar year not exactly on the rich side with a little more than $9 million in salary cap space.
And following recent transactions, the team’s current available cap space is $5.22 million, according to the NFLPA database.
Nevertheless, Dorsey appeared comfortable with the team’s current situation and said there’s room to make moves.
“We’re in a good position right now,” he said. “It gives us some flexibility to do a few things if we have to and it gives us flexibility to acquire some more players if we have to, but I think we’re in a good space right now. We’re in a good place.”
Sky’s the limit
Dorsey believes the biggest stride for a player is from the first year to the second, a good gauge of where that player stands.
And that certainly applies to defensive lineman Mike Catapano, last season’s seventh-round pick.
“He’s been here day in and day out, he’s been working his butt off,” Dorsey said. “The guy is driven; he’s one of those relentless warriors you want on your team.”
Catapano appeared in 15 games on special teams as a rookie, including seven appearances on defense. He finished the season with three tackles (two solo), a sack and three quarterback pressures.
When it comes to what to expect, Dorsey continued the praise and high optimism.
“I’m excited to see him contribute as we go forward here in his second season,” Dorsey said. “I’ve always said all along that guys make their greatest strides in year one to year two and I could see great strides coming for Catapano.”
Leaving no doubt
The Chiefs were active in free agency in 2013, the first year under Dorsey and coach Andy Reid.
While signings are slower now, the One Arrowhead Drive brain trust has always maintained their philosophy to solidify a team through the draft.
Perhaps that approach originates from a Ron Wolf or Mike Holmgren way of thinking, but Dorsey removed all doubt how he’ll continue to build the Chiefs going forward.
“I’m going to do it the Chiefs way,” Dorsey said. “And the Chiefs way, as we said all along, is we’re going to be selective in free agency and we’re going to build a foundation through the draft, and that’s kind of how we’re going to do this thing.”